There’s a new coronavirus crisis norm for Orange County and the rest of Central Florida, following the Florida Department of Health’s dramatic shuffling of COVID-19 case data Tuesday.
And the first day of that new norm was not a good one for Orange County or for the rest of the greater Orlando area, according to the Department of Health’s Wednesday report. Adjusted tallies for caseloads, hospital admissions, deaths, and positive-test rates soared.
Wednesday’s report was the first of a new norm for Central Florida. State officials reworked figures for Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia, Brevard, Lake and some other counties for Tuesday’s state report, though they did not explain that until Wednesday. State officials said Wednesday afternoon that in Tuesday’s report they moved around case data, either from county-to-county or out of the county totals entirely, because of reassessments regarding where people actually lived.
That threw Tuesday’s state report into what looked, without any explanation, to be complete chaos; 1,750 cases got deleted from Orange County’s total compared with Monday’s report, and hundreds of new cases dropped seemingly out of nowhere into the totals for other Central Florida counties. The same happened with totals of hospital admissions and people who’ve died from COVID-19 in Central Florida.
So how’s the new norm starting?
If the adjusted numbers now are more accurate, not well. Central Florida appears to have caught up with the third-wave surge of the coronavirus pandemic that has been experienced in other parts of Florida in recent weeks.
Orange County was reported to have tallied 764 new cases since Tuesday’s adjustments, the worst one-day total the county has suffered since July.
Largely fueled by that, but also by significant increases in the other counties Wednesday, Central Florida’s caseload grew by 1,546 COVID-19 cases, also the worst one-day total since July.
The latest batch of COVID-19 test results backed up the validity of that surge. Positive test rates soared in all six Central Florida counties for the results received Tuesday and reported Wednesday. In fact, for Tuesday’s test results batch, the six counties’ combined positive-test rate, 8.8%, was higher than the state’s overall rate, 8.6%, for the first time in weeks.
Wednesday’s state report also showed significant increases in the numbers of people being admitted to hospitals and dying because of COVID-19 infections in Central Florida.
The new norm.
“It’s important to note that data is provisional and subject to change as epidemiological investigations progress. During the Department of Health’s continuous review of COVID-19 data, numerous COVID-19 cases previously assigned to Orange County were determined to be residents of another Florida county or were considered non-Florida residents. The total case numbers for Orange County were adjusted accordingly,” Jason Mahon, communications director for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, explained in a written statement.
The 764 new cases tallied for Orange County Wednesday was the highest one-day total since July 16. Still, the number was consistent with the rising trend seen in the days before Tuesday’s adjustments. Orange County now has suffered 61,055 COVID-19 cases since the coronavirus crisis emerged in March, according to the state’s adjusted figures.
Elsewhere, Osceola recorded 268 new cases in Wednesday’s report, giving it an adjusted total of 20,545. Volusia County saw its caseload increase by 155 Wednesday, giving it an adjusted ten-month total of 17,875. Seminole County recorded 147 new cases, giving it a total of 14,603. Lake County picked up 114 new cases, giving it 11,638. Brevard County added 98 cases, for a total of 17,077.
All of those one-day totals show a rising surge compared with days before Tuesday’s number adjustments.
Forty-one additional COVID-19 patients were reported admitted to hospitals across Central Florida Wednesday, including 16 in Brevard, 11 in Volusia, and eight in Orange.
Twenty-four people who have died across Central Florida were added Wednesday to the toll of those attributed to COVID-19, including ten fatalities each in Orange and Osceola. That marked the worst day the region has seen since second-wave fatalities peaked in mid-August.
Positive test rates for COVID-19 ranged from 6.9% in Brevard to 10.8% in Osceola, in the batch returned Tuesday and reported in Wednesday’s state report.